Dogs have a mindset of a two and half year old toddler. The techniques used for both work on them cognitively and emotionally.
When you are training your dog, you will learn to handle children better. It will prepare you for parenting beforehand. The dog training tips and tricks that are perfect for dogs are equally useful for raising well-behaved children.
Here are some dog training tricks that effectively help us raise a well-behaved child.
1. Abilities and Disabilities
Children develop the power of self-control and self-regulation at age 3 to 5. The process continues till age 10. Three parts of the brain are involved in self-control:
- Prefrontal cortex: involved in rule-following, higher-order thinking, and impulse controlii.
- checkAnterior Lobe: involved in behavior adjustmentiii.
- checkOrbitofrontal Cortex: reward-attraction and decision-making
Dogs have the left side of their brain involved in self-control. Dogs adopt impulsive behaviors such as destructive chewing, excessive biting, etc when their left frontal cortex is over-used. It’s similar in children when they demonstrate a stubborn behavior during the waiting period at a shop/bakery/restaurant.
Dog trainers learn to differentiate between an impulsive and attention-seeking behavior. When the dog deliberately misbehaves, the dog trainer or dog owner stops paying attention. When it’s an impulsive behavior, they try to find the cause and its solution. Trainers understand if the pooch is suffering from separation anxiety (an instinctual behavior) and give him a treat-dispensing puzzle for long-term playtime.
In children, the instinctual behaviors are a display of possessiveness and impatience. They can be tackled best if they are engaged in an acceptable behavior. If they are ignored for long, they may indulge in an inappropriate behavior. We often ignore the child until she gets in trouble when we have no other option than to punish them.
2. Physical Signals and Cues
Dogs and children are famous for imitating adults. They understand and follow their body language more than words. They have a short-term attention span, so an adult’s focus is required to guide them properly towards a task.
Research has shown how dogs can read and imitate our emotions quite perfectly. They are well-tuned well to our emotions and actions. In times of grief, you will never find your dog laughing at you.
Babies and toddlers can only be attracted by physical cues. You can grab their attention using social cues.
3. Follow the Leader/Role Model
If your dog loves you, he will imitate you to get in tune with you. They are pack animals that are trained to follow the leader. Dog-owners who attend doga classes must have seen their pooch trying to imitate them.
Children are no different! They find their role models in you. They pick up your habits, your behavior, your way of dressing, your attitude and so on. They find their ideal in you. Their rights and wrongs are defined by what you do and avoid.
According to an experiment conducted at Yale University in the Canine Cognition Center, dogs imitate human behavior but skip on the irrelevant steps, but toddlers mimic the adult behavior without questioning it. Toddlers will follow through the irrelevant steps without judging its need for the outcomes.
The results show that parents have an upper hand on their toddlers. Parents can mold child behavior just by bringing a change in their own habits.
4. Positive and Negative Reinforcement
Positive training rejects old disciplining techniques that are based on inculcating fear and imposing punishments on dogs. It approves positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is about praising the dog or giving him treats for the good work done. All it requires is a consistency of rewards. There should be no delays. Negative reinforcement is preventing the dog from bad behavior by creating negative consequences. Consistency is required here too.
Research has shown that children can easily grasp the process of positive reinforcement. They will repeat the behavior that ends in rewards and positive outcomes. Negative reinforcement, alternatively, is difficult for the children to grasp at an early age. It can be employed at a later stage of life as it requires complicated reasoning.
Using positive reinforcement, if you can set the routine of your dog to brush teeth daily, go out for walk, and so on; you can set perfect routines of your child.
5. Controlled and Calm Behavior
Positive reinforcement doesn’t mean allowing everything to the dogs and toddlers. Boundaries and limitations need to be set for both of them. The rules and restrictions vary from personality to personality of the dog or child. If the rules are broken, a calm and controlled behavior is essential.
The authority figure has to handle the situation in a calm manner. Raising the voice or losing temper weakens the position of the adult handling the dog or child. It encourages reactive behavior of the pooch or child. They might revolt and disobey the orders. That’s why it’s important to stay patient and consistent.
James is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant with years of experience in dog training and the man behind LabradorTrainingHQ.com. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times.
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